Bill Easton has been around the Amador wine scene for many years, establishing his winery there in 1985. Prior to that, he owned and ran the well-known Solano Cellars wine shop in Berkeley that he opened in 1978. Bill’s wife Jane is a noted cook (and cookbook author), and created a menu for the Solano Cellars wine bar – the first wine bar in the East Bay. When Bill decided to make the change from selling wine to making it, he felt that a move to the Sierra Foothills fit the bill for him with its Mediterranean climate and its volcanic and granitic soils. He feels that these aspects of the region lend more acidity, minerality, and structure to wines than is the case in many other California growing areas. In addition to the winery and surrounding vineyards that Bill farms in Shenandoah Valley, he and Jane also own a 24-acre site in the nearby Fiddletown area.
At Easton, their vineyards are farmed sustainably, some organically. The winery and tasting room facilities are solar-powered, providing about 90% of their electrical power to run pumps, press, and cooling units and to keep the wine cellar and customers happy on hot summer days.
This month, you’ll be tasting a bottle of Easton Zinfandel Estate Shenandoah Valley 2013 Vintage, the sixteenth vintage of their estate-bottled Zinfandel. The fruit originates from the old Baldinelli property that was planted in the early 1970’s, which is rigorously suckered for proper cluster spacing and sun exposure to get full flavor development. The wine tastes full, rich, smooth, and gutsy, with a smooth creamy finish from aging in François Frères and Taransaud barrels (1/3 new barrels).
The Easton 2013 Estate Zinfandel is a fine example of how nearly all of Bill’s wines are age-worthy. Most people don’t age Zin more than a couple of years before drinking them, but this one is going strong after nearly eight years, with plenty of upside ahead of it. Bright berry fruit plus a brushy herbal component and notes of spice in support, this had more acidity and structure than you find in most Amador Zinfandel, still displaying firm tannins on the